06 December 2007

Murder On The Orient Express (HARPER, 2007)

Well it had to happen I suppose. Agatha Christie's crime novels have been adapted into a 'comic strip' (seriously, that's what these books are labelled as: Agatha Christie Comic Strip. Maybe they thought 'graphic novel' was too pretentious). Having read a lot of Dame Agatha's murder mysteries, especially the Poirot ones, I was naturally curious to see whether they manage to adapt these whodunits into comic form. At the time of writing, there are about eight comic adaptations already out there but I have only read Murder on the Orient Express for now.

My opinion of the book: Eh.

Longer detailed critique: It's not bad. But it's not good either. It's only forty four pages long while the source material had over three hundred pages. Sure, a comic book can use one or two panels to describe the scene visually what would take a prose novel a couple of pages at least, but even so forty four pages is way too short. The main problem is the layout of the pages. Each page is crammed with eleven to twelve panels(!) reducing each panel into small, tight, mostly rectangular shaped, spaces. The artist, Solidor, hardly has any room to maneuver in such limiting conditions. Most of the time you can hardly see his beautiful artwork because they're obscured by the word balloons, necessary in a comic book admittedly, but it could have been better if he was given just 6 panels per page instead.

It's simple really. Less panels per page means bigger panels per page which in turn means more room for the pictures and the words. But that would have increased the page count which naturally would lead to an increase in price and maybe that's why they went for the "cram-everything-within-forty-four-pages" strategy. Pity because Agatha Christie deserves better.

The purpose of adapting her novels into comic book form was to generate interest (or rather, more interest, since her books are still very much in print and are still selling) among the kids. However, if MotOE is anything to go by, the kids would probably give Agatha Christie novels a pass. I would recommend to just dive straight into her novels and enjoy them in all their wordy glory.

A couple of pages from the book:

Crowded panels! Eyes hurting!

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